1931 Duesenberg Model J Limousine by Willoughby
Sold For $451,000Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.
RM | Auctions - HERSHEY 10 - 11 OCTOBER 2019 - The Complete Collection of Jack Dunning
- Offered from the collection of Jack Dunning
- Properly maintained and largely original condition
- Original chassis, engine, and body, as delivered
- Well-known history; rare survivor of Willoughby coachwork
- Ideal mount for CCCA CARavans and other tours
Jack Dunning’s Duesenberg Model J is one of fewer than four extant with this style of coachwork by Willoughby of Utica, New York, renowned in-period for the conservative design but sumptuous interior appointments of their beautifully crafted work. While this style was relatively popular with Duesenberg’s clientele, many of the cars were later rebodied as phaetons or cannibalized for parts—hence the scarcity of survivors.
This particular car truly is a survivor. Its history is known back to the original owner, Henry Dolfinger of Philadelphia, chairman of the board of Abbott’s Dairies, who took delivery from the New York factory branch on 29 May 1931. Mr. Dolfinger sold or traded the Model J to the well-known New York City dealer Hilton Motors four years later; they, in turn, sold the car to Mrs. Doris Garfinkel. Subsequent owners were Dr. H. Britenstool in 1941, and Dr. S.L. Pool in September 1955.
Homer Fitterling, one of the earliest true Duesenberg collectors, bought J-430 in October 1958. The car remained a favorite in the Fitterling stable for over three decades and, during that time, was driven several times to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club’s National Reunion in Auburn, Indiana. It was left intact and mostly original, with the exception of a repaint to the present two-tone blue and black and new rear seat upholstery. The car was still nice enough that in 1959 it won a 1st Place Primary award at Auburn.
In 1991 the car and the rest of the Fitterling Duesenberg collection was acquired by Ed Weaver of Dalton, Georgia. Following Mr. Weaver’s untimely passing, J-430 was sold in 1995 to the Imperial Palace of Las Vegas, joining their own vast fleet, the largest collection of Duesenberg automobiles ever assembled. Later in the decade it became part of the Ahmanson family’s small, well-chosen collection in Los Angeles.
Jack Dunning bought the Model J from Tom Crook in 2013, fulfilling a longtime desire for Duesenberg ownership and completing his ACD collection. He was attracted to this particular automobile because, in his words, “It’s one of the most wholesome, intact cars I’ve ever encountered.” Brian Joseph and Tim Purrier of the renowned Classic & Exotic Service of Troy, Michigan, went over the car from stem to stern, exchanging many small incorrect parts with correct original components from their vast stock, while also correctly reupholstering the rear seat as original. The original steering box, starter, rear end, and other drivetrain components remain intact, down to the fan under the hood, which has its original green paint on the hub. The engine was opened and inspected and the original rods found to be in good condition and uncracked; with careful use the car still runs and drives well, past its 45,000th actual mile. Accompanying the car is a trunk and a hubcap wrench, as well as a copy of its ACD Club Category 1 Certification, issued decades ago to Mr. Fitterling.
This is a wonderfully intact, solid Model J, an ideal car for further preservation and enjoyable touring in CCCA CARavans and other events—the same way that Jack Dunning has enjoyed it. It is a “wholesome” car, worthy of a new owner who will appreciate its stately charms and robust road power.